Coronavirus: If I live in California, do I still have to pay my rent this month?

Coronavirus: If I live in California, do I still have to pay my rent this month?

With the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on the economy, many Californians are scrambling to find the money to make their next rent payment.

Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order Friday that will give some tenants much-needed time to pay their landlords.

Two days after Newsom announced four of the country’s five biggest banks and more than 200 state-chartered banks and credit unions have agreed to commit to 90-day mortgage waivers “for those that have been impacted by COVID-19,” the governor said he has banned eviction orders “for renters affected by COVID-19 through May 31, 2020.”

“We just established a new overlay for the state of California that denies the capacity for enforcement, court proceedings and evictions through May 31,” Newsom said Friday.

The legislative and financial jargon used by the governor and banks has led to questions, concerns and uncertainty for renters wondering when their next payment is due. To provide more clarity, we created a FAQ for tenants wondering what this all means and when they’ll be expected to pay rent again.

Question: When do I owe my next rent check? 

Answer: If your next rent payment is due April 1, you are required to pay on time unless you can provide your landlord with documentation that you have been “impacted” or “affected” by the coronavirus pandemic.

Question: What kind of documentation do I need to provide my landlord to show I can’t pay rent?

Answer: Documentation that can be verified such as termination notices, payroll checks, payroll stubs, bank statements, medical bills, or signed letters or statements from an employer or supervisor explaining the tenant’s financial circumstances have changed is required.

Question: When do I need to tell my landlord I can’t pay rent?

Answer: Tenants must declare in writing “no more than seven days after the rent comes due” that they cannot pay all or part of their rent due to COVID-19.

Question: When do I need to provide my landlord with documentation that my financial situation changed?

Answer: Tenants are not required to submit the documentation until the payment of “back-due rent” is made.

Question: What is back-due rent? Do I need to pay it? When is it due by?

Answer: Tenants who are unable to pay rent on time must eventually supply their landlords with the remainder of payments they partially made or full payments they did not make at all. The executive order lasts through May 31, 2020, so any missed or partial payments must be made to landlords by that date to avoid evictions.

Question: My financial situation hasn’t changed, but I’m worried it might. Can I make a partial rent payment when it’s due and save money for an emergency?

Answer: Unless your financial situation has changed due to COVID-19, you must pay rent in full when it is due. The state notes nothing should prevent tenants from paying rent in a timely manner or relieve a tenant of liability for unpaid rent.

Question: I am quarantined away my residence. Do I still owe my rent in California?

Answer: Yes, unless your financial situation has changed due to COVID-19, individuals are not compelled to remain physically present in their residence if they are in quarantine, in isolation or adhering to another public health measure put in place by a government authority.

Question: Can my landlord still terminate my lease?

Answer: Yes. Under the order, landlords are allowed to terminate leases for nonpayment and other legal causes, but are banned from removing tenants during the state of emergency.

Question: Will I be evicted if my lease is terminated?

Answer: Not immediately. A tenant may not be evicted until at least June 1, as the executive order lasts through May 31.

Question: I’m a home owner with a mortgage payment coming. What does all this mean for me?

Answer: Gov. Newson issued a separate executive order on Wednesday announcing there is a 90-day waiver for home owners who have been impacted and effected by COVID-19. For more on that, click here.

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